Really lucky people have kids who work in really cool jobs in really cool places.
Our oldest is the creative director and CEO for the largest design company in the world, with offices everywhere. Every summer he takes his young family to one of those offices for six weeks or so, rents an apartment, and lets the old folks come and visit.
We've been to Rome (for the millennium no less), Paris, The Black Forest, Shanghai, Austria and this past summer, Munich. If you have never been to Germany then you won't necessarily know what I am talking about when I tell you that walking into Fassler Hall here in Tulsa made us feel like we were in an authentic hofbräuhaus -- essentially an informal German tavern.
The building, 304 S. Elgin Ave., previously housed Indian Lock and Key, and is another venture by The Elliot Nelson Show, also known as Mr. Downtown, and a really fun place. Its old brick walls and high, steel beam ceiling feel comfortable and solid. This place is totally unpretentious and very welcoming. The atmosphere and service are ultra-casual, and the beer is primarily German and primarily ... well, delicious.
House-made sausage sandwiches, imported Bavarian pretzels, and duck fat fries are as snazzy as it gets. The function of Fassler Hall is to be a neighborhood gathering spot and social venue, sometimes with live entertainment, sometimes with an awesome juke box, (more on that later) and always with good beer and good food.
When you walk in, it's obvious that you are entering a a building that for decades was among Tulsa's industrial workhorses. The front of the building sports a huge garage door, which is opened on nice days and evenings for fresh air and extra atmosphere.
On one side is a beautiful bar, every bit of 30 feet, maybe more, which was obviously built to support the weight of 20-30 tipsy customers in the, shall we say "leaning" stages of the evening. Not that we have anyone like that here in Middle America.
Behind the bar, a spacious area houses all the accoutrements needed to handle a large variety of import beers as well as the growing array of personal drinking apparatuses owned by members of the already well established "Stein Club". For a small fee, dedicated drinkers can rent a square foot of real estate on a shelf just large enough to accommodate their personal beer stein. The owner's name is emblazoned permanently below, forever immortalized, (or immoralzed) on the shelf. Or at least until you get barred from the place or pass on to that big hofbräuhaus in the sky.
The tap, a monstrosity of a thing, in the center of the bar, holds several huge, ornamental pulls. Some serious, authentic art.
The room is probably 60 feet by 60 feet, maybe a bit more, and is filled with long, wooden communal tables flanked by benches on either side, just like the beer gardens in Germany. The odds are very good you will be sharing the table with a dozen people you don't know. The odds are better that you'll become fast friends by the end of the night. On really busy nights, overflow seating spills onto a bench that runs the length of the south wall. This place is just too fun!
Approaching the bar to place your order, you can smell the great, sausages cooking in the kitchen. Fassler staffers claim to make them all on premises, and from the taste of the ones we tried I'd agree.
Katie went for the jagdwurst, a hunter-style sausage made of pork and beef with herbs and a bit of spice. It was delicious and rich, and she loved every bite except the one I stole when she wasn't looking.
I decided on the lamb sausage with grilled pepper and onion and a cucumber/mint sauce. The cool freshness of the yogurt sauce against the hot, juicy sausage worked perfectly. Served on a hearty roll, it was an awesome sandwich. Both had that pop that you expect from a homemade sausage casing when you bite into it and were meaty and flavorful. Or as Pete Townshend might put it: meaty, beaty, big and bouncy. Other items include a habanero chicken sausage, Andouille sausage of Cajun fame, a sweet Italian, a brat, a Chicago-style hot, and duck fat fries. All the sausage sandwiches come in at $5.50; fries are $4; awesome, salty pretzels are $4 for a pair. The pretzels were crisp and glossy on the outside, covered with big granules of salt, and warm and soft in the middle. Served with a spicy mustard they were too good.
Tavern Talk. The unpretentious, industrial vibe of Fassler Hall pairs well with pretzels, big meats and dark,
Let's talk a minute about duck fat fries. As if the poor, lowly duck didn't have enough problems staying ahead of the ala orange people for centuries, chefs across the country a decade ago decided to put seared duck breast on their menus by the thousands, and NOW we're eating our fries cooked in the fat. Never had 'em? There's few treats better. Rich, crispy and delicious, duck fat fries are the new "mashers."
So anyway, you grab your beer and your customer number on a big tall table stand, and find a seat. If you're there on the right night, there could be an indie-rock band, a jazz act or a garage group. If not, you can pick from an absolutely fantastic selection of music on the jukebox, which includes Etta James, The Rolling Stones, Curtis Mayfield, Frank Sinatra, Genesis, ZZ Top and Lynyrd Skynyrd, among others, all broadcast over an incredible sound system.
The beer selection is diverse -- a full page, in fact. Katie and I tried a German honey/wheat called Ayinger Jahrhundert that was extremely good. This place is worth checking out. Who knows? We may all end up at the same table some day!
304 S. Elgin Ave.
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